The view from my veranda

171229 Guatemala, Brenda Katten, 2018


29th December 2017

Shabbat Shalom everyone – especially if you live in Guatemala!!

I hope your Christmas and Boxing Day celebrations went well and that your prayers for 2018 will come true.

Guatemala, Central America, about 16.5 million citizens and courage above anybody in Europe! Actually courage above any other country you wish to choose!!Garcia Granados, the Guatemalan Representative to the United Nations in 1947, headed the effort to establish the State of Israel. Guatemala was the very first to follow the USA announcement that they are moving their Embassy to Jerusalem. Guatemala, the only country to recognise the aid and support given freely by Israel, by accepting the fact that Israel has the right to choose her own capital city. When I think of all the African nations that have consistently received Israeli aid yet vote against us time and again it makes me sad. I know it reflects life, those of us who give seldom get, but nonetheless one lives in hope.

Brenda Katten is an amazing lady. Brenda served her community in the UK, indeed that is how I first met her, and since moving to Israel she has continued her determination to put forward Israel’s point of view – she writes beautifully, concisely and after over 30 years I have yet to disagree with her! Here Brenda analyses the negative reactions to President Trumps announcement that he intends moving the Embassy of the United States to Jerusalem thus recognizing that Jerusalem is indeed the capital of Israel. An excellent read.

While the issue of Jerusalem vis a vis the Embassy is conceivably the most obvious event of this last year, it is most certainly not the only one. Perhaps one should note that the expected “uprising” among the surrounding Arabs barely took off; Britain yet again suffered horrific terror attacks; Norway announced it is reducing funding to the PA unless it goes to the people not terror; Saudi Arabia chose sides and Qatar became the big enemy; North Korea is testing ballistic missiles; the Palestinians claim Israel is committing cultural genocide because we say that Hummous is Israeli too; President Trump is celebrating a year in office; France elected a young President; Anti-Semitism became the new PC –  but then these are all things you already know so perhaps we can discuss some of the major events here in Israel.

First and foremost, Israel is thriving! Our economy is exceptional, a tiny country of just over 8,000,000 our GDP is a staggering $387.3672 Billion – compared to similarly sized Jordan $38.65 Billion. We still have a problem with the lack of parity in earnings between the top executives and the regular civil servant, but we are working on it. Our greatest asset is the “Yiddische Kop” – the Jewish Head. It isn’t that we are cleverer, it is just that we are more curious and delve into areas that others do not. Having said that, many of our top researchers are Israeli Arabs. Our major fields of research are in medicine, pharmaceuticals, High Tech, agriculture and civilian protection, the latter spilling over from military research. I know that this news will possibly give the likes of Roger Waters and his BDS criminals a collective heart attack but we simply produce things that the world wants. Of course you helped too – 3,600,000 visitors this year! Well done!

Perhaps the saddest economic issue of 2017 is the closing of most ofTEVA Pharmeceuticals due to a foolish act by company directors, with many losing their jobs.

The schism between religious and secular Israelis is becoming an abyss and I am not hopeful for change in 2018. This year has seen both political sides fanning the flames of hatred – something we really don’t need. Instead of civilized debate both sides play the “three wise monkeys” game leaving the rest of us – from traditional to unobservant – trying to come up for air. I still stand by my belief that the status quo worked – especially in Tel Aviv but in many other Israeli towns – with many food shops, restaurants, cinemas, etc open on Shabbat, without needing a law for or against. The boat has been seriously rocked with ridiculous statements in response to the demand to close all of the above on Shabbat from Knesset Member Tamar Zandberg like “You want to leave the secular community stuck at home like prisoners?” After all – this is a Jewish country.

Last weekend was spectacular! Yosef Eliyahu read beautifully from the Torah, this time as a fully-fledged Jewish man with all the responsibilities that entails. Again a marathon eating experience which culminated in a truly magnificent party held at “La Belle” in Talpiot, Jerusalem. I have to admit that I didn’t manage to get past the fish course – 3 down 3 to go!!!! I looked at my beautiful daughter and her exceptional family, all dressed for the occasion, and felt so proud that she chose to come to Israel, to  be beside me.

What do I want for Israel this coming year?

More brave people like Mosab Hassan Yousef! The great democracies of North Korea, Pakistan, Iran and Qatar condemn Israeli Human Rights but Mosab knows better – he was born in Ramallah became a member of Hamas………………. what a brave proponent of true human rights

To expect the deaf, dumb and blind to suddenly see the light is too much to ask, but one can pray that

  1. Facebook and Twitter will ban hate speech
  2. Arab states will begin teaching tolerance in their schools
  3. Western nations will stop being neo-PC and reintroduce national and religious pride into their everyday lives. Pride in what one is does not have to be exclusive – it can be to the benefit of all.
  4. That the left and right in all countries will find a way toward the middle. Parallel lines never meet
  5. That many countries will follow the lead of the USA and Guatemala and bring their Embassies to Jerusalem, not giving in to fear of violence.
  6. That Israel can concentrate on medical research rather than defensive innovation.
  7. That scenes like this one, the Israeli Baseball team standing for Hatikva before their qualifying match in South Korea, will be common and no country will ban our athletes
  8. That Jews will stop fighting each other and realise that the danger outside is far greater than the power struggle inside.
  9. That the extreme Haredi community will join in the building of this amazing country instead of kissing our enemies.
  10. Finally, that we will all – each and every one of us, whatever his or her beliefs – will look to the right and the left and speak to the person beside him without asking his faith, income, origin or colour. That we will all remember that a beggar asks for money because he has no other choice and perhaps the most important issue is that donations to Israel had nothing to do with our GDP – it is all about working together, being together and forming a united front.

This has been a week of spectacular sunrises, I took many photographs, getting up at the crack of dawn to do so! I wish I was clever enough to put them on this letter but if you go to my Facebook page you will see them!

So let’s try to think of which songs are appropriate for closing the past year and opening a new page.

Let’s drink a cup of kindness dear for the sake of Auld Land Syne

Guard the world child, you have seen things a child shouldn’t see, Guard the world child because we didn’t

Perhaps the most relevant song as we enter 2018, the song that encourages us to stay hopeful in the face of great adversity. We Shall Overcome. The great Dr Martin Luther King believed it as he believed in the Jewish State –

I wish you a happy New Year, חי20, wherever you are, whoever you are. Remember to stand up for what you believe in, after all we have already proven the power of one exists.

With all our love from Jerusalem and our veranda

Sheila and her Zvi